Maybe think of The Neon Demon as a models’ Black Swan crossed with Maps to the Stars. Or not. The Times called it “ridiculous and puerile.” The only thing ridiculous there is calling it “puerile” — clearly, The Neon Demon went over that reviewer’s head. One who probably didn’t think The Shallows was ridiculous.
Scott Tobias of NPR, on the other hand, understands what the director of Drive was doing. His review, titled “Refn’s ‘The Neon Demon’ Paints Hollywood In Garish, Gorgeous, Gory Colors”:
In the shimmering Tinseltown gothic of Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, beauty is a commodity both precious and volatile, subject to runway trends and the ravages of age, with just a blemish, a wrinkle, or a sliver of fat separating today’s “It Girl” from tomorrow’s bus back to Indiana.
…the mesmeric pull of The Neon Demon cannot be denied. It lures you in for the kill.
There were a couple big plot problems I had with this movie, which is too bad. Luckily they happen, unusually enough for plot problems, in the first half of the film. They’re a little frustrating because they could be easily re-written to lift The Neon Demon to one of the best of the year. But the visual pull of this film is undeniable. 7/10
Comparison Notes (each recommended and better): Sleeping Beauty, Electrick Children, Mulholland Drive
Note: Though the Times slammed The Neon Demon as “puerile,” they contradicted themselves by featuring an “Anatomy of a Scene,” which I include below along with the trailer.